To The Doubting College Student

doubting

Dear Doubting College Student,

I cannot speak for you. Only you know where you are right now. Maybe the things you want to go well in your life just aren’t. Maybe the things you don’t want in your life keep coming. Maybe you feel so completely and utterly confused, lost, alone.

I’ve been where you are.

There are good days. There are great days. And there are days where absolutely everything feels out of place. My freshman year was full of those out-of-place days.

I questioned my decision to go to college. I questioned the school I chose. I questioned my major. I questioned my roommate. I questioned my classes, my ability, my promises, my role in it all. There wasn’t an aspect of the college journey that I didn’t question.

I cried. A lot. I got angry. I ran, ran from everything I knew. But worst of all, deepest of all, I ran from God. Hadn’t He told me to go to this school? Hadn’t He given me these talents? Hadn’t He sent me this roommate? Where was the blessing of obedience? Where was the peace, the success, the grades? I did all the right things and I didn’t feel successful. I didn’t see it. I was frustrated. So I ran.

I can’t tell you exactly when it was that I started to see God working. But I can tell you that it happened in baby steps. I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I talked to close friends, ranted to my parents, went to counseling. I sought out mentors, advisers. I asked questions. I questioned everything. Again and again, I was faced with one word: SURRENDER.

I was searching for success in myself. I tried to create stability in myself. I wanted to go to college, to do well in my classes, to prove myself worthy–worthy of admiration, worthy of praise. I told myself it was for Him and yet I worked for myself. Once I realized that, I had a decision to make: was I going to continue to do my own thing or was I going to start to let go?

Letting go is scary. Trusting is scary. Giving up yourself is scary. And it’s hard. Am I willing to trust that God is truly in control, that He is perfect, that His plans for me are higher, better? Will I allow Him to fulfill my dreams, the dreams He placed in my heart?

It was a long, grinding process. But slowly and surely, I learned to let go. Little by little I opened my hands and my heart and gave my dreams to God. In return, He gave me peace. Peace and hope.

That’s how it can be for you.

Deep down you know what you need to do. You are standing in your story. You know the dreams that God has given you. You know the costs of surrendering. But only you can make the decision to do that.

The change won’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the room to struggle with questions. Allow yourself to think and wonder. But ultimately, allow yourself to come to Him. Give Him a fighting chance to prove Himself. Because He will.

signi

Learning to Pray Expectantly

prayingdevotional

Prayer is an important part of having a strong relationship with God.

I remember last fall, my school took a trip to Windy Gap. We spent the week worshiping God and getting to know one another before heading back to school. One of the last nights we were there, the leaders sent everyone off to have quiet time with God. I found a spot beside the sand volleyball courts. Looking up at the starry night sky, I thought of how cool it would be to see shooting stars.

Immediately after that thought, I frowned. Why should I ask God for shooting stars? Aren’t I supposed to ask for important and meaningful things? How can I ask for shooting stars when there are so many other things to be praying for? I bent my head and looked at my hands, convinced that something as little as shooting stars should be something I should have prayed for.

You could probably guess what happened. When the bell rang and everyone was called back to the chapel, my friends ran up to me speaking quickly about how beautiful the shooting stars had been. I stopped in the path, shocked. God had answered my prayers but I was so busy convincing myself it wasn’t worth the time that I had missed His answer all together!

While we should pray with full faith that He is able to answer our prayers and do everything we ask, we have to remember that it’s God’s Will that is to be done. God wants us to accept His Will completely and give our lives to Him. Once we do that, He openly answers our prayers because we are praying for His Will to be done! Sometimes, though, there are things that He gives us anyway, like shooting stars. But we have to remember that it is God that we are serving, not ourselves. James 1:6-8 explains this idea:

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. ~ James 1:6-8

My challenge this week is that you would pray expectantly, knowing that God can answer your prayers, giving us everything we need, but also remembering that His Will comes first.

signi